Does the title of this piece get your shackles on edge? Are you a little defensive? Maybe a LOT defensive? Maybe you are saying, “WAIT A MINUTE! IT SAYS BIBLE RIGHT HERE ON THE COVER!”
Maybe you are asking why I would make such a statement? Simple . . . it is the truth (don’t worry, I will back this up).
Let’s start with the word Bible. The word “bible” is from the Greek word βιβλίον biblion. It means: book, scroll, bill, writing or written document. βιβλίον biblion is a synonym for βίβλος biblos or sacred writing- book – scroll.
Biblos is an Egyptian loanword, originally bublos. “It denotes in the first instance the shrub of the papyrus and then its bark” (Schrenk, “biblos,” Kittel, 1:615). As early as the Sixth Century B.C. papyrus became the standard writing material in Greece. Hence the word came to mean “inscribed paper” (ibid.).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “969. βίβλος,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “969. Î²á½·Î²Î»Î¿Ï‚”.
Biblion, a diminutive form of biblos (969), simply means a “book, document, scroll, writing.” In classical Greek the diminutive force would have made it mean a “little book or scroll.” Biblos, the parent word, originally came from Byblos, the name of a city in Syria. This seaport city was a major avenue for the shipping of papyrus plants to Greece, where the plants were converted into writing material. Eventually biblion came to be so commonly used in place of biblos that another diminutive form, biblaridion (967), was needed. Although this form is unknown in classical Greek, it does occur elsewhere (e.g., Revelation 10:2,8-10).
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “968. βιβλίον,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “968. Î²Î¹Î²Î»á½·Î¿Î½”.
I know – I know! You are saying to yourself – this is NOT supporting your thesis Bill! If you will bear with me, there is a lesson (or two or three) in all of this . . .
Let’s start with Mattityahu (Matthew) 1:1:
Matthew 1:1 (CJB)
1 This is the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, son of David, son of Avraham:
In the Greek interlinear, we get the following:
Matthew 1:1 (GreekNTTischendorf)
1 βιβλος γενεσεως ιησου χριστου υιου δαυειδ υιου αβρααμ
Matthew 1:1 (Wescott-Hort)
1 βιβλος γενεσεως ιησου χριστου υιου δαυιδ υιου αβρααμ
As you can see, the first Greek word in this verse is βίβλος biblos in both of the two Greek texts above.
This might be an excellent place to begin by asking a very simple question with HUGE implications. A question that you may never have considered – a question that may require you to pause and think about it for just a minute:
Why is there two different Greek texts?
I will let you think about that question for a minute because it is the beginning of understanding several huge concepts and truths . . .
Does it make sense that if the text is the text and there is no variance, that one Greek text should and would be sufficient? Would we need 2 different texts that say the exact same thing?
So why the two? It is simple and yet very complex. I am going to try and explain the complex part so that it is simple too. We don’t have to go very far from Matthew 1:1 to do this.
Notice the following verse in Luke 17:1:
Luke 17:1 (CJB) 1 Yeshua said to his talmidim, “It is impossible that snares will not be set. But woe to the person who sets them!
Luke 17:1 (AMP) 1 AND [Jesus] said to His disciples, Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!
Luke 17:1 (GreekNTTischendorf) 1 ειπεν δε προς τους μαθητας αυτου ανενδεκτον εστιν του τα σκανδαλα μη ελθειν
ουαι δε δι ου ερχεται
Luke 17:1 (Wescott-Hort) 1 ειπεν δε προς τους μαθητας αυτου ανενδεκτον εστιν του τα σκανδαλα μη ελθειν
πλην ουαι δι ου ερχεται
I have highlighted the variance by bolding and underlining the differences in the 2 Greek texts above. I have done this to show emphasize an important concept:
The above are Greek TRANSLATIONS of the text.
Translations are based on many things: the translator’s knowledge of the language, understanding, deduction, logic, theology, extant manuscripts, letters, etymology, syntax, grammar, possessives, history, and yes, even politics – the list is huge. There are also many more Greek translations than the two cited above – The same can be said of the Hebrew texts as well.
Okay, so what is the point of knowing all of this information? Simple really:
You don’t own a bible ( βιβλίον biblion),
you own a “translation” of the bible.
If you think I am wrong or you think I am in error, then answer the following question(s) carefully and as truthfully as you are able:
Which translation of the the bible (KJV, NASB, NIV, CJB, etc) gets every single word correct? Which translation gets every single understanding correct? Which translation gets every single etymology correct?
You see, we do NOT have the original “autographs (documents).” We have some really old ones, but not the originals. The original autographs would be the bible. We own translations of the autographs.
Before you jump to conclusions, let me head them off right now . . .
The translations we have are trustworthy – even with their variances! We know this because of textual criticism. Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls were one of many confirmations of this.
A very good book by a man I respect is Searching for the Original Bible by Dr Randall Price. I actually got to meet him in Israel last year when we were at Qumran. He was very gracious and dropped what he was doing and gave our group a teaching. It was awesome!
So maybe you are saying,
“I get what you are saying
– aren’t you just splitting hairs on this bible vs. translation thing?”
Hopefully what I am doing by pointing this out is to get you to read the text critically – to study God’s word with purpose and intention! Hopefully this will remind you to pray for discernment before you study – to rely on the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) for guidance and wisdom!
There are two simple words to understand in study of the text:
- Exegesis (X-ah-Gee-sus): to pull or lead out
- Eisegesis (Ice-ah-Gee-sus): into (as in reading our OWN meanings into the text)
We do NOT want to do eisegesis ever! Eisegesis leads to adding to the text. Doctrines, dogmas, theological suppositions are often a result of eisegesis, or as some scholars joke concerning eisegesis: bad exegesis.
Every heresy and false teaching I have ever studied
has it foundation in an eisegetical approach to the text.
So how can you apply what you have learned in all of this information? What is the practical application? I can make several recommendations:
- If you can, get a Greek and Hebrew Interlinear (a “reverse” type may be a good starting one)
- Get a good Hebrew and Greek biblical dictionary (this is very important)
- The Amplified translation of the bible can be a good starting point too as it takes key words and amplifies them so that you can get a fuller understanding of the meaning of the word biblically.
- Use several versions of the text at the same time when you study – my recommendation would be a good word-for-word along with a thought-for-thought and a good combo word-for-word/thought-for-thought
- Several good commentaries can be of use too as some of them explain the words very well.
- If you can’t afford them, http://www.blueletterbible.org/index.cfm has a few free tools that you can use to study such as lexicons and dictionaries along with multiple translations of the text.
I personally use the following translations, dictionaries, lexicons and commentaries daily when I study (I have much more than these – this is just what I used as my “go to” study tools:
- Complete Biblical Library Interlinear
Main translations of the text I use in parallel:
- CJB – Complete Jewish Bible
- NASB – New American Standard Bible
- KJV – King James Version
- AMP – Amplified Bible
- NIV – New International Version
- Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary
- Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary
- Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
- The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
- Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery
- Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
- Dictionary of New Testament Background
- Dictionary of Paul and His Letters
- Dictionary of Later New Testament and its Developments
- Dictionary of Old Testament Historical Books
- Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch
- Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew English Lexicon
- Thayers Greek English Lexicon
- Gingrich Greek English Lexicon
- Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr David Stern
- Bible Background Commentary by Dr Craig Keener
- Complete Biblical Library Commentary (over 400 scholars)
- Adam Clarke commentary
- Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary
- Word Pictures in the New Testament by Dr Archibald Thomas Robertson
- Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter C Kaiser
In other words, I have many translations and many dictionaries to explain the differences in those translations.
So you may wonder – What religion am I? What doctrine do I subscribe to? Some of you may feel you know based on the commentaries.
The answer is none, I follow the one true God YHVH. I am his child and he is my father and I love him deeply! I am a follower of the one he sent – his son Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ). I have belonged to Christian congregations and I have belonged to Messianic ones because I have to belong to a body of believers.
I give verses and commentaries excerpts instead of references to them so that you can see for yourself – I do NOT want you to take my word blindly – I want you to check the facts before you believe just like the Bereans did.
The main reason I write what I write is because I want to help you, if I can, fall in love with our Father’s word. It is a word that is sufficient without creeds and dogmas and doctrines and, well, at times gobbledygook mucking it up. I want to help you strip away your preconceived notions and suppositions so that you can study God’s word as naked before him as King David was when he danced before our Lord . . .
Blessings to you all,